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'Make more than money, make a difference' - Lindani Dhlamini

The entrepreneur of the week is a big believer in hard work and pushing past fears to achieve entrepreneurial success


This article forms part of the Women's Month 2015 series in which SME South Africa, throughout the month of August, will shine the spotlight on female business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs.

Company Profile
Name of company: SekelaXabiso
Years in existence: 3 years
Position: CEO
Location: Waverly, Johannesburg

Can you tell us a little bit about your company and what you do. 
SekelaXabiso is a leading professional services firm and a triumph of South Africa’s empowerment spirit. We pride ourselves in applying international best practice to deliver rigorous audit and advisory services of the highest standards.

Created through a merger of two highly qualified teams from Sekela Consulting and Xabiso Chartered Accountants almost three years ago, the firm has grown from strength to strength and has evolved over the years. 

SekelaXabiso expanded its business offering to include corporate finance in order to provide advisory and capital raising services to corporate and government clients involved in public mergers and acquisitions, private treaty acquisitions and divestments, debt and equity fund raising and corporate restructuring. 

In addition, SekelaXabiso Financial Services – a subsidiary that will service financial institutions by assisting with issues related to growth and strategy, finance and earnings optimisation and risk management – has been established. Through these expansions, SekelaXabiso is now primed to be a premier advisory services provider.

"Failure is a necessary teacher and strength giver to an entrepreneur"

To increase its footprint in the country, SekelaXabiso also recently acquired Ubucule Accountants in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) and expanded its business service lines and offering across Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background – personal, educational and professional.
I was born in Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal. I then got the opportunity to attend Adams College which was a huge opportunity for a black girl from the township during a time when our country was going through racial turmoil. 

I initially studied Bsc in Computer Science on an IBM scholarship at the University of Cape Town and then completed a Bcom at the same institution.

After my stint at a big insurance company I returned to university to study to become a chartered accountant. Deloitte then gave me the opportunity to do my articles. I then joined the corporate finance division at Deloitte upon completion of my articles. I then started Xabiso Chartered Accountants.

What were some of the obstacles you faced starting out, and how did you overcome them?
Obstacles are there for you to overcome and learn from. I’ve had many of obstacles as an entrepreneur, but I’ve learnt that they make you stronger as a person once you overcome them. You learn something about yourself and sometimes even surprise yourself in terms of your capabilities. We can’t escape challenges because they are a part of life.   

How many people does your company employ? 
We currently have approximately 300 employees. 

What is your overall vision for your business?
My vision is that companies such as ours will pioneer the normalisation of black excellence in this country so that we can stop talking about the 'the first black' and 'the first black woman', and start seeing black excellence through black-owned businesses that are professional and successful, as the norm and not 'a first'. 

What do you think it takes to establish and run a successful business in South Africa? 
The 10 000-hour rule by Malcolm Gladwell captures the essence of my success – to achieve excellence you need to work at it, and work at it, and work at it.

"Failure is a necessary teacher and strength giver to an entrepreneur"

When did you know that you were an entrepreneur? 
I grew up with entrepreneurship all around me - my own mother, a professional teacher by training, was an entrepreneur of note, selling sweets and cakes to supplement the family income. Every other neighbour in Umlazi, where I grew up was doing exactly the same thing in one form or another.

How would you describe your leadership style?  
I’m task-oriented, big on results and I try to motivate my people to achieve results. I’m also very passionate about empowerment and skills development of young people.

What three pieces of advice would you offer young entrepreneurs starting out today?
- Don’t be afraid to ask, the worst that anyone can tell you is ‘no’.
- Don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is a necessary teacher and strength giver to an entrepreneur.
- Have a vision that is far bigger than you that drives you. Make more than money, make a difference!

What do you wish you had known starting out? 
The road won’t be easy, but perseverance, a high-risk appetite and relentless hard work will propel you through seasons that seem impossible.

And finally, do you believe in luck, hard work or both? 
I believe that luck is where hard work and preparation meet opportunities.

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